Brazilian Jiu-jitsu isn’t popular. Deny it not.
It’s the reason why all the big names in the sport as well as the martial art as a whole are barely known outside the small community of dedicated individuals who train.
Now that’s not a problem. It’s an opportunity.
The Great Challenge
For those who are truly passionate about Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, it’s hard to understand how others seem either unwilling or unable to understand the appeal.
The primary reason for that is a lack of understanding about what the art is and how it can be useful. So in essence, it’s all about perception.
Also there are different degrees of that with the most common being absolutely no knowledge at all.
Yes, yes there have been many times when I have told people that train Brazilian Jiu-jitsu and they have looked at me with a blank look. Then I’ve had to give them a reference point for conceptual association, and the most common example used is wrestling.
You tell them that it’s like a wrestling, and in their mind they start moving in the right direction. There are large differences between wrestling and Brazilian Jiu-jitsu though, so the analogy isn’t perfect. At least it can’t be denied that some progress was made.
Why I Started Training
I started training at Evolve Academy a year before I started Brazilian Jiu-jitsu. During most of that time, training BJJ was the furthest thing from my mind. I didn’t see how it could be personally useful for me.
Also I’ll admit the whole close contact thing wasn’t particularly appealing.
Being in the environment and seeing the passion that others had for art slowly started to shift my perception. I still didn’t want to train, but there were the beginnings of a shift.
I also had training partners who were recommending it to me here and there, but the turning point was when I volunteered to help at a Brazilian Jiu-jitsu tournament for the school.
It was there that I really got deeply exposed to some of the high levels of passion and skill that can be found in the art. It made want to give it a try myself, and I’m really glad that I did.
It has changed my life in so many ways.
One thing is clear though. All that changed in that period of time was perception.
Don’t Accept the Way Things Are
So let’s go back to the opportunity that exists in this situation.
We’ve already established that in order to increase the popularity of Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, we have to change perception. Both the challenge and the opportunity lie in how that can be done.
First, let’s start off with some bullet points on the benefits of Brazilian Jiu-jitsu that I wrote somewhere else:
- You will get in the best shape of your life as a result of having to generate force and leverage from so many different angles.
- You will gain skills that will be helpful in self defense situations.
- You will be able to expand your social network by meeting new people in the gym or in the community.
- You will have a vehicle to express your own unique sense of creativity
- You will gain a better understanding of what the human body can and cannot do.
- You will begin a lifelong journey in pursuit of mastering one of the most diverse and multifaceted martial arts on the face of the earth.
Now you’ll notice in those benefits, there was a clear attempt to highlight associative links between Brazilian Jiu-jitsu and things that have intrinsic appeal to larger groups of people.
If you broke it down, you’ll notice the topics of weight loss and fitness, self defense, networking, personal expression, knowledge of the human body, and continuous improvement.
Obviously, I think that Brazilian Jiu-jitsu is one of the most enjoyable methods of achieving those benefits, but it’s all about the presentation.
Let’s shift gears a bit.
Over the last few decades, Brazilian Jiu-jitsu has grown by leaps and bounds. It’s clearly more popular now than it was twenty years ago, but it’s still barely scratching the surface when compared against some other sports and martial arts.
There is so much more room for growth. How far it can go depends on individuals who are passionate about the art.
We all should be shouting its benefits from the rooftops.
Do it now. Don’t wait.